Bennett cuts off nose to spite face, a letter in Friday's Albert Lea Tribune about a candidate forum in Minnesota House District 27A, caught our eye, and we went looking for more about the event.
Miles Pechacek, an Albert Lea resident, writes:
A few weeks ago I went to the debate between state Rep. Shannon Savick and Peggy Bennett. Mostly, I wasn’t surprised by what either candidate said. Rep. Savick is running on her record of accomplishments such as paying back the schools, funding all-day kindergarten, balancing the budget and pushing through the funding for the dredging of Fountain Lake.
Ms. Bennett is running on the stance that she advocates less government. Which leads me to my one surprise of the evening. When asked how she felt about what the Minnesota Legislature did to support education, Bennett said she has a problem with the government providing programs such as free breakfasts for students. That, she said, should be the responsibility of the parents.
Really? As a teacher she should know and be concerned that a hungry student cannot learn. She should know many parents are just getting by, working odd hours or multiple jobs. Making breakfast is the ideal but not the reality for most families.
So that makes me wonder. If Ms. Bennett became a representative, would she throw aside practical solutions to real problems? Would she reject what’s good for our students or other citizens because it conflicts with her small government idealogy?
I know I don’t want a rigid person who votes lockstep with her party representing me.
Here's a clip of the answer (from a longer video):
While Bennett says she supports early childhood education, she certainly doesn't spendany time arguing for it. Instead she frets aloud beginning at the 46 second mark:
I do have a problem, and I struggle over this because I see the state and the US government, the federal government, starting to raise our children. All these good programs, from breakfast to whatever, are good but it takes responsibility away from the parents and puts it on to the state and family is the core to our society.
And every time we do that, we weaken the family. We need to find ways to strength the family. We need to find ways to lift up the economics in our area so people can support themselves.
We need to find ways to get the poverty kids to have the language that they need and all those things.
So that's a struggle for me. It's important, I would definitely support early childhood education as I do regular education, but at the same time, I want to be very careful that we do not take things away from our parents because everytime we do, it weakens the family.
This is gibberish. Bennett both thinks early childhood education is good, but it's bad because it weakens the family.
Where's this coming from? MinnPost's Beth Hawkins took a long look in Who killed the Legislature's bipartisan, leadership-backed early-ed initiatives?:
But the real opposition came from a little-known organization called Education Liberty Watch, mostly in the person of its president, Dr. Karen Effrem. Headquartered in Maple Grove, the group opposes any state role in early education — even, during the last budget cycle, opposing kindergarten readiness assessments and preschool screening.
The accepted research that sold the aforementioned list of business leaders on the idea that investing in early ed would provide handsome returns? Education Liberty Watch disagrees, offering research of its own showing that “intact families and high levels of religiosity” are the key to closing the academic achievement gap. . . .
Effrem testified before the legislature several times during the recent session, on topics ranging from the importance of the two-parent family to the dangers of early ed and the “perverse incentives” privately funded scholarships would create for the poor to allow their children to be raised by others. . . .
Bennett talks about "good" things coming from ECE, but ramblies on about the state taking over child rearing.
What are the benefits of early childhood education, other than "language" for "poverty children", a.k.a, increasing their vocabulary? Tim Pugmire took a look last year in State pumps money into early education to close achievement gap:
Researchers say access to early childhood education is a critical step in ensuring that students do well from the start. Studies have found that gaps in learning are already wide when children enter school; children living in poverty, for example, know far fewer vocabulary words than their more-affluent counterparts.
Megan Gunnar, director of the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, points to years of research showing students who attend quality pre-K programs continue to do well not just academically but in other areas as well.
"They were more likely to finish high school, they were more likely to get a job, they were less likely to be incarcerated," she said.
Even if the academic benefits of pre-K programs fade in later years, as Gunnar said some studies have suggested, the social and decision makings skills students gain will help them throughout life. University of Chicago economist James Heckman has found that quality early education yields a 7 to 10 percent return for every dollar spent.
Funny, but we suspect that programs that foster success in school and work, while statying out of jail, probably strengthen families.
We'll be looking at a couple more moments from the forum. Endorsed Republican candidate Peggy Bennett and pro-life IIndependence Party candidate Tom Price are challenging first-term state representative Shannon Savick (DFL-Wells).
Photo: Peggy Bennett, struggling to talk about early childhood education. To watch the full video taped by Dan Borland, click here.
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